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East Palo Alto tenants to protest rent increases

Original post made on Dec 11, 2007

Many East Palo Alto apartment tenants, possibly hundreds, have received rent increases of "18 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent" that may violate the city's Rent Stabilization Ordinance, according to attorneys at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, December 11, 2007, 10:51 AM

Comments (36)

Posted by Page Mill Props - Bad Landlords!, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 11, 2007 at 11:23 am

I'm glad this meeting is happening. Page Mill Props are not being honest about what they're going to do w/the properties. My rent increase letter states it's for improvements they've made. They haven't mowed the lawn, much less made one improvement to our property. They have made a number of thoughtless mistakes in their dealings with us, so I'm sure they'll get caught one of these days. I'll be happy if they finish the improvements my previous landlord started. This is a scary time for anyone who's now under their aegis. Ugh.

Posted by Free Markets, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 11, 2007 at 3:33 pm

EPA needs to get rid of rent control. Rent control has caused the blight that exists in EPA due to landlords not being able to charge market rents to be able to maintain their property. There is no incentive to make improvements since there is no additional return on the investment. Get rid of rent control and let EPA thrive.

Posted by Concerned Tenant, a resident of Duveneck School
on Dec 11, 2007 at 8:48 pm

Greedy Landlord gone bad and he has been got in the scam.
EPA should indeed get rid of these bad landlords and their supports. They always take advandage of the regular joe.
We are very lucky and thankfull to have a wonderfull person such as Jeanne Merino and her Talented Lawyers Team to protect us from these vampires.

Posted by a concerned neighbor, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 11, 2007 at 11:02 pm

If Page Mill Properties didn't want to play by the rules they shouldn't have bought the properties in East Palo Alto earlier this year. They knew what they were getting into. Rent control.

Kudos to these tenants and the East Palo Alto Community Legal Services for holding Page Mill's feet to the fire. Let's hope all the people of East Palo Alto have the good sense and political will to resist whatever the minions of money and muscle throw at us.

Posted by Abused Tenant, a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 12, 2007 at 11:16 am

Apartment property owner/management is one of the biggest evils that has ever existed.
I am glad a group of hard working folks have stood up to these people.
I have tried to do the same here at the Westwood Garden Apts in Mountain View!
These people do not care about the well fare of their tenants. All they care about is MONEY!
Now, I owe attorneys fees for both sides, foresnic (mold test)fees, and every fee that is assosiated with standing up to these people. My son now lives with his aunt in Concord, and my professional career is now at stake!
Worse yet, the city, and county DA's office will always take the side of the property owner (property tax?)!
Lesson learned - Tenants will always get the short end of the stick when we stand up for our rights as tenants!

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 12, 2007 at 11:32 am

We need serious reform re: the requirements and responsibilities of rented residential ownership. There has to be some account of the lives of the human beings that reside in an income-bearing rental property. If that means that we evolve rental property owners that are not as concerned with maximal market rate returns, in exchange for nurturing the tenents whose lives are effected by their actions, fine.

We need to get rid of the kind of greed that rips the lifeblood from family and community. I hope Page Mill Properties has its feet held to the fire for the outrage they have visited on good people.

Posted by tenant on west side, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 12, 2007 at 6:18 pm

If you are interested in helping to organize against this, or would like to know more, please visit a new website (no ads, no commercial interest): Web Link

Posted by hopeful neighbor, a resident of Escondido School
on Dec 12, 2007 at 7:51 pm

East Palo Alto is a diamond in the rough. In the Bay Area, I think itīs just EPA and SF that have rent control and these provide critical options for people who canīt afford to live elsewhere. And Page Mill Properties obviously knew what they were getting into when they decided to invest here and I hope tonightīs meeting and similar protests to their actions result in some awakening, at least in a PR sense. Is it true that all the rate hikes have happened between the creek and west side of 101?

Posted by Sean H, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 12, 2007 at 8:31 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Brian, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2007 at 2:39 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Omarr, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2007 at 2:41 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Concerned Property Owner, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2007 at 9:13 am

There needs to be a lot of focus on what Page Mill Properties is doing. They are contacting property owners with all kinds of lies trying to get them to sell, and now it looks like they are trying to force out the tenants with more lies about non-existent "improvements".

Posted by Liat, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2007 at 9:23 am

Before Page Mill came into town, my maintenance complaints were resolved faster, my apartment was cleaner, workers did not carry about their business at night, and the garden was well-maintained.

When you make the existing conditions worse for the tenants, you don't deserve to hike the rents to market rates. Page mill needs to get with the program and stop yanking us around like the poor stupid people they think we are.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2007 at 10:26 am

Find out who owns Page Mill and picket their home, pointing them out as the egregious abusers that they are.

Posted by I'm Confused, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2007 at 12:51 pm

My rent increase is 10%, which I thought was legal. But the attorneys for the legal org for the tenants say 3.2% is max. Will see what I can find out. Already sent my letter off asking them to rescind rent increase, due to the reasons stated - improvements to property - being untrue. Perhaps they'll be blown away to find one of their tenants is literate, since they seem to treat us all as illiterate morons.

Posted by ryan, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2007 at 1:15 pm

The biggest problem with EPA is that its one of a few places that is in a great location. (Debra Loggins is still getting a prime deal for a place to live paying $500 or even $650 for rent. Its should be more if this place was in one of the surrounding cities.) Its in between San Jose and San Franciso and is easily accessable to the East Bay by via the Dumbarton bridge. I do admit there is a correlation between low-income housing and crime but I don't exactly know what the causes are. It'd be ignorant of me to say that the crime rate is because of the low-income housing because there are people in the low-income housing units that are trying to make a better life for themselves and for their families.

The other thing I do want to point out is that according to the law of supply and demand, we should let the market reflect the real values of the property in EPA. I did a case study on rent control in New York (I think Santa Monica also went through a phase of rent control.) and there were a lot of problems with it. There was a lack of quality in the places for rent as well as shortages. The study I did stated that the owners were unable to "beautify" the place or take care of maintence problems because they were not getting enough rent. In the end, they let their properties degrade themselves since there were no incentives to invest in their property. In the article, Page Mills Properties is trying to make their properties look presentable. (In recent months Mill Properties has spruced up the facades and landscaping of at least a dozen apartment buildings it owns in East Palo Alto.) Who can blame them? They're trying to attract potential renters, not turn them away.

I read that implementing government subsidies or providing affordable housing is a better way to provide low-income families with affordable housing. I wonder if this strategy was/has been looked into or what other types of stratgies has been looked into.

After I finished studying about the different cases, I realized that rent-control is terrible way to provide affordable housing to low income families. Disband the rent control team and implement a strategist team!

Posted by Aunne, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2007 at 1:48 pm

Thank you Ryan , i could not have said it butter myself .

Posted by Ryan Needs to Live There, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2007 at 2:15 pm

Try living in a place taht Page Mill just bought, and that just because it's painted, the owner thinks the rent should be jacked up 20%, and wants that increase in 30 days, which is against the law.

Page Mill wants the benefit of being a landlord w/out the real responsibility. Some of the places they bought needs SERIOUS repairs, which haven't been done. We'd all respect Page Mill more if they made genuine improvements, knew the law, didn't violate the law, and treated their tenants better. I have NEVER been as poorly treated by a landlord as I have by Page Mill Property employees. They're rude, condescending, are dismissive of tenants' who know their rights, don't return phone calls, don't process maintenance requests and are so inconsiderate no on in PALO ALTO would put up with it.

Posted by ryan, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2007 at 2:54 pm

I don't know how Page Mill runs their business. From what you've said about them, they seem shady. I can't dismiss the news article that I read in the SJ Mercury news in which is said that PM has tried to make their living places more presentable.

My point was that rent-control does not abide by the laws of economics. I was saying that by allowing the market to behave naturally, we'd see that the market value for homes in EPA is much higher than they currently are. I think PM is trying to find that market value by increasing their rent, which according to the rent-control, is illegal. I'm not in any way saying that PM is right for what they're doing nor am I saying is it right for them to ignore the legal 3.2% increase and raise their rates by 20%.

I think your arguement is more of an attack on my character, (I could be wrong, but since you stated your name as "Ryan Needs to Live There) and an attack on the company when you say that they treat their tenants poorly, etc. I'm trying to take a neutral stance on this issue but if they're doing something illegally, then they will suffer the consequences for it soon.

My arguement was that rent-control should not be implemented because it does allow the market to react naturally. (Look up rent control cases in New York, Santa Monica and you'll see that they haven't worked out.) Because of this, owners of these properties are less likely to invest in them, which degrades the building altogether, which ultimately brings down the value of the immediate surrouding area.

I honestly feel like you're not hitting the heart of my argument that in place of rent-control there should be government subsidies to provide affordable housing.

Posted by It's Moot, Ryan, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2007 at 2:59 pm

Rent control is in effect in EPA.

Posted by Economics, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 13, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Having low to middle income residents in a wealthy area serves a huge economic need - many of them are lower wage and nonprofit employees. Many of them are grad students, who won't always be lower income. Many of them are struggling single parents, who have decent jobs. Keeping an area economically viable doesn't just mean having wealthy residents; it means having residents covering the income strata. This will become more important as people struggle to become more green. Employing locals in an area with lousy public transportation means said locals don't have to commute as far as their jobs.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2007 at 3:15 pm

Economics - Finally! Some sanity. Thank you!

Posted by Economics, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 13, 2007 at 3:21 pm

My pleasure :) Economic diversity is important - and not just for businesses. Keeping an area economically vital can be a bit of a balancing act.

I knew someone in EPA who discovered rats living in their stove, after complaining several times about rat problems in the garage and on the property. The landlord refused to do anything about it. Took the tenant hiring an attorney, withholding rent and suing the landlord to get the problem resolved. This is a silicon valley employee - intelligent, educated, but not a high income person, who preferred to live in EPA so they could have their dogs, rather than in a more upscale area.

Posted by ryan, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2007 at 3:25 pm


Here's a detailed article of rent control and the effects on it on the market: Web Link

Posted by EPA Resident, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2007 at 3:27 pm

Funny how we all get so easily categorized as low income, or disabled, or as criminals. I know a good many EPA residents who work fulltime - sometimes more than 1 job - and since they don't make 150k to raise their families on, they live in EPA. In my area of the westside, there are singles working fulltime, graduate students, families, young couples, the disabled, criminals - the whole gamut. There are Pacific Islanders, whites, Latinos, Asians, some blacks, of all ages. Being lower income is NOT a crime, but the illegal rent hikes are. If the new landlords wanted to do this legally, they would've done their homework so they could at least get some immediate return on their investment. Instead, they get bad publicity, potential lawsuits, angry, uncooperative tenants, and may lose money.

Posted by Ryan - Reality, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 13, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Ryan, it seems you're interested in an intellectual argument, which is irrelevant since EPA has rent control. There are pros and cons of rent control, just as there are in any other system. It's fine if you want to be intellectual about it, but it seems a little odd because the other posters here seem to be concerned about the *reality* of these rent hikes, either for or against.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2007 at 3:38 pm


the CATO Institute? You must be kidding. Those people would slit their own pet's throats for begging at the dinner table.

CATO is SO old, and tired. Aren't you getting tired of defending their "free-market' crapola under so many different pseudonyms?

Posted by Pagemill victim, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2007 at 5:16 pm

For any of you that may have been there at the meeting yesterday .
Did you happen to notice that an employee of pagemill was sitting on the rent board . His name is "Bob" Robert Allen apartment manager for
5 ,15 ,and 25 Newell rd . Now tell me that's not shady as hell.

There should be a conflict of interest.

we are not all criminals , some of us , including me work 2 full time jobs , support a 3 year old little girl and my elderly mother.

and still just make it .

but do you think it is fair , for my rent to go from , 950.00 to 1300.00 a more then 33% jump in rent for a 1 bedroom , apartment with a broken heating unit and clogged water pipes .

Posted by "I Live on Alberni Street", a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 16, 2007 at 9:15 pm

I've lived in East Palo Alto for 25 years, AND believe me, I've seen it all. Drive down any street that's paved or not, that has sidewalks or not, that has drug dealers or not, and I can guarantee that you will find people that are trying to work the system. Will East Palo Alto EVER look half as decent as Palo Alto? Never! People in this City are hard workers and whats left of them are the survivors of a economic system. The truth is low income people cannot survive if they are not fit for survival. I think they should increase rents to offset the city's bad reputation by pushing out the people that are the bums in this City. Maybe they will take out some of the city council too! I'm ashamed having to grow up in this City! You know why!

Posted by live on newell, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2007 at 6:47 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 17, 2007 at 9:25 pm

It's certainly not "fair", but it is what it is: Those who have the gold make the rules. When the Bay Area developers run out of attractive targets to develop, they lower their sights towards areas that are the next lowest hanging fruit. And usually, the residents are completely unable to defend themselves. It's as old a story as the day is long.

Posted by defend epa, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2007 at 2:32 am

This site is a joke , every time it gets a post that defends the people , they delete it .


None of you people care . it is just a 30 second news clip for you.

Posted by Ecnomics, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2007 at 12:20 pm

Wonder if the tragic death of the young Page Mill employee on Euclid will impact Page Mill Props at all. I hope they get sued. They aren't giving any comment in response to journalists inquiries, so they're busy circling their fancy wagons.

Drive by and offer a candle, a prayer, or just a moment of silence for Andy Cardona. There is a cross, flowers and candles under the tree where he died. It's on the west side of EPA, just north of The Four Seasons. The address:

2012 Euclid Street

The closest cross streets are West Bayshore and O'Connor.

Posted by Tired of slumlords, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Page Mill Victim: Your City Council should be passing laws that levy strict fines for landlords that do not comply with the basic requirements implied in a residential rental contract. Penalties should include jail time sufficient to teach a lesson (up to one year), and forfeiture of part or all of the properties involved. Either residential landlords live up to their responsibilities to the community, or they go. That goes for every community in America.

Further, in an area where residential housing supplies are in such short supply, there should be reasonable limits put on rent increases. In no way should a rent increase be permitted to exceed the standard & of living increase in these areas, with some additional allowance for exceptional circumstances and expenses that are not covered by the landlord's normal safety nets (like property insurance).

Posted by V, a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 19, 2007 at 1:59 am

This is the first I've seen mention of the name of the man who lost his life on Saturday hanging Xmas lights. Does anyone have an address on where to send condolences to the Cardona family?

I don't know what all the facts and legalities of this tragedy are, but I plan on writing California's attorney general to bring more attention to it. I'm not a lawyer, just a person who was deeply disturbed by what happened and this should have never happened.

You can write the attorney general about rent increases too. The more people complain the more the state has to take a look at what's going on. I'm all for money and making money and making profits, but some of it is outright greed. Especially these corporations are raking people over the coals. They have plenty sources of income. When my rent goes up, then I have to deprive myself of something. My income never goes up to match the rent increases.

Posted by mean ol' landlord, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2007 at 6:39 am

I don't know the details of what is happening in EPA..but as an "evil landlord" for 25 years of various houses..the comments from those who want to "get rid of landlords"..hmm, interesting comment from those who don't want to/can't buy their own property and want to keep renting.

We are the ones who keep paying the mortgage, even when rentals drop way below the mortgage when the economy dumps. We are the ones who aren't allowed to raise rents without all kinds of grief to cover we don't buy in rent-control areas...we are the ones stuck with the battles of evicting tenants who simply stop paying we don't rent to "risky" people, ( those who stiffed another landlord, those who haven't had a steady job for the last 2 years, those on subsidies)..

You guys have to realize that landlords don't buy property out of the kindness of our hearts. It is about making a living by taking our bets. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but always we try to earn a living out of it. We are the ones taking the risks, not the tenants.

If you live in a rent controlled area, be grateful it is cheaper, but don't complain about the maintenance.

Aside from that, if it is true that there are these phenomenal rent is indeed fully illegal and the tenants will win.

Better back off, Page Mill, and do your homework better. You are new to this.

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